Check Up Time | 9 Months Post-Chemo

Tomorrow morning I head to UNC Women’s Hospital in Chapel Hill. I’ll park in the Dogwood Deck, hopefully on the second floor near the sky walk, and make my quarterly pilgrimage to Clinic D. I’ll check-in at the front desk and make small talk with the woman who has greeted me countless times previously before taking a seat with the other women at various stages of their adventure with reproductive cancers.

The first nurse of the day will invite me back to take my vitals and inquire as to whether I’m in any pain. Hopefully my weight will be down and everything else will check out as usual. I’ll let her know that my big toe hurts while giggling internally over the inside joke. I wouldn’t have reported something so seemingly inconsequential in the past. However, now I report everything because I’m afraid if I don’t I might miss something that will prove to be an early warning sign of something less trivial.

Up next is a quick visit with Dr. Gehrig. We will cover how the last 3 months have gone for me, cover any questions I may have, go over any instructions/suggestions she may have, and after a lightning fast internal exam she will wish me well until our next appointment in January when we will hit the one year post-chemo anniversary.

My last stop of the morning will be to visit my favorite ladies in the Infusion Room. While we discuss what I have been up to since I last saw them and I hear updates on progress of cute babies, they will take a blood sample for my CA-125 test and flush my port to keep it working as intended.

One last stop at the front desk to set up my next appointment and maybe a quick pop into the hospital Starbucks for a celebratory beverage and then I’ll be making my way back across the sky walk to find the GR(APE) to make my way back home.

None of these steps takes very long, perhaps 15 minutes max, but they are so emotionally charged that I often find myself wiped out when I’m finally done. It may also be because I will still be waiting on the results of the main reason I routinely make this trek. If all goes well, by late tomorrow afternoon I will hear back from Dr Gehrig that my CA-125 has continued to stay within the normal range.  Then you can cue the sigh I didn’t realize I had been holding since probably my last check up.

Ten Ways You Can Change the World

I am just crazy enough to think I can change the world, but not so crazy that I think I can do it alone. That’s where you come in!

10 ways you can change the world:


  1. Follow this blog
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Follow me on Instagram
  4. Comment, Like, and Share
  5. Join my Relay For Life team
  6. Donate to Relay For Life on my page
  7. Learn the symptoms of ovarian cancer
  8. Talk to someone about ovarian cancer today
  9. Check your box (and/or remind a friend to check theirs)
  10. Help me get onto Ellen’s show

I’m not holding you to that last one I just needed a 10th way, but if you know someone…

Thank you for your time!

Don’t worry, I got this

❤ P


Be Silent_leaderboard


Here’s What People Are Saying About Courage


I hear it all the time now since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year… “You are so brave. I wouldn’t have the courage to face cancer the way you have.” I never know how to respond to that because I don’t feel particularly brave or courageous.





All I can say is I think you’d be surprised what you are capable of. I always thought I would fall to the ground sobbing upon learning I had cancer, but that wasn’t the case. I think my doctor expected a different reaction from me too since she paused a moment before asking me if I understood that she had just told me I had cancer. Sure, I did. I’d been preparing myself for that diagnosis for weeks. I think I would have been more shocked to hear I *didn’t* have cancer. Once she confirmed what I had suspected, my only thought was “okay, what do we do now?” Every day since then has been a variation on that same thing. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Today’s Rose | I had a nice visit with some of my Starbucks peeps today. While there it occurred to me they are yet another branch of my support network and I realized just how much I’ve been missing them.

Today’s Thorn | Fergus isn’t having the best day today. I’ve lost track of how many times he has stood in his food bowl and then water bowl before kicking water all over the living room. He wants to go out, but when we get there he doesn’t do anything. Here we go again…hopefully the last time tonight.


Don’t worry, I got this


World Domination, Step 1 | Increase Awareness

While talking with one of my doctors today, I mentioned that I might reduce posts to only once a week because it doesn’t look like my posts are being read by many folks. Then I rattled off the concerns I have: are my posts too long? are they poorly written? am I posting to frequently? After all, I’ve had people complain about my Facebook posts in the past, saying they muted me because I flooded their feed. Is that what’s happening here? Should I focus on one topic a week and do it up right? I mean, if my friends don’t even want to read my blog, why would a complete stranger? How will I ever effect any change if I’m just shouting into the void?



After a beat, he asked me if writing these posts was helping me?

Certainly, getting these thoughts out of my head onto the page has been a huge help.

Does writing as often as you do work for you?

At least for right now it does, there’s a lot of thoughts rolling around in my head.

I certainly don’t intend to discount the need for increased research, but isn’t the biggest issue a lack of awareness? There are people out there that don’t even know ovarian cancer is a thing and early detection is key…


Yes, and I’ve heard of friends who were aware having to beg their doctor to investigate their symptoms because they can so easily be written off as symptoms of aging.

Right. In my opinion, if your posts save just one woman that would be huge.

So, I’m going to keep going. I’m still looking for my voice and trying to figure out what works for me, but if you hang in there with me I promise I’ll get the hang of this eventually. And maybe, just maybe, these posts will help someone else besides just me.

If, like my sister, you think this blog might help someone who loves a survivor understand what they are going through and you know someone who might benefit, would you please consider sharing with them? I’d be ever so grateful!

Don’t worry, I’ve got this!

❤ P



Save the HooHahs!

It began when I was still receiving treatment and my doctor had just switched me to another chemotherapy drug (typically used for breast cancer patients, but also shown to have success with ovarian cancer patients) to hopefully stop the advancement of the peripheral neuropathy I was experiencing on the original (also primarily indicated for breast cancer). I was laying on the couch recovering from the first dose when a commercial came on the television asking if you or a loved one had breast cancer and had received the drug Taxotere… Wait a minute, I thought to myself, I don’t have breast cancer, BUT I am taking Taxotere. What do *I* do if my hair never grows back? Don’t I count?

Then there’s the ever present and ridiculously well funded Race for the Cure and the Avon 39 fundraising walks. I don’t know if it is because October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month falls on the heels of September’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness month so I can see the stark difference between the two or if there is just so much damn pink being thrown at me this month, but I can’t continue to let this go anymore.

First let me say I love The Ellen Show; I watch it routinely and it is programmed into my DVR in case I can’t catch it live. I love Ellen and everything she does to increase kindness in the world. She made me laugh when I thought at times when I thought I might never laugh again. It just happens that while watching today, the show provided references to some of the things I am really beginning to dislike about the month of October.

Today on Ellen, Shutterfly gave $25,000 to a survivor and her family so they could go on a vacation and Michael Strahan danced so Ulta Beauty donated $20,000 to research. It’s been like this all month, every October for the last 4 years. To be fair, I searched for ‘ovarian cancer‘ on her site to make sure I hadn’t missed something similar last month for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately there were only results for breast cancer. It isn’t just on Ellen either, yesterday’s audience on Let’s Make a Deal was full of breast cancer survivors and their caregivers. Everyone went home with Dune Jewelry custom Breast Cancer Awareness jewelry.  On October 2, The Price is Right had a breast cancer themed episode too. No doubt there are more, but you get the idea.

Ford Motor Company has their Warriors in Pink which has donated $133 million since 1993. Pampered Chef has their Help Whip Cancer products that have contributed $12 million to to aid the American Cancer Society®’s fight against breast cancer. The Esteé Lauder Companies have Pink Ribbon Products through their Breast Cancer Campaign.  The Breast Cancer Campaign has raised more than $70 million to support global research, education and medical services, with more than $56 million funding 225 Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF) medical research grants worldwide. The list goes on and seems to get longer with every passing year.

How many commercials have you seen about #ovariancancer? How many television shows have you seen raising awareness OR donating thousands of dollars to ovarian cancer research AND thousands in prizes to #ovariancancersurvivors? How many major companies have teal themed products for sale to help fund ovarian cancer research?

My guess is none.

I’m blessed with a 92% chance of living 5+ years after treatment because mine was caught ridiculously early at Stage 1 when my ADHD doctor became concerned about my blood pressure (same stage breast cancer? 98.5%), but ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer and the majority of women aren’t diagnosed until Stage 3. Their chance of survivng 5+ years drops to 39%… Stage 4? 17%(same stage breast cancer? 25%). 

Ovarian Cancer

This needs to change.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Pink Sisters and I am grateful for the advancements in treatment that have also been found to be beneficial to ovarian cancer patients, but it’s past time the big movers and shakers with the deep pockets realize that not all women’s cancers are pink. #notallcancerispink

There is not a screening test or vaccine available for ovarian cancer so the best hope we have right now is early detection. The only way to achieve that is to increase awareness and many of my ovarian cancer survivor sisters are too busy fighting to live to push for a change so you’re stuck with me. I’m a loud mouth and can only hope I am up for the task. I’d better be because I really can’t handle constantly hearing “oh yeah, my mom died of ovarian cancer” whenever someone hears my diagnosis.

Don’t worry, I’ve got this

❤ P

Breast Cancer Commercial 2017 Search Results

On Progress

I’m making progress and while some days are better than others it’s still progress. Over time, I’ve learned that even at a slow pace it still counts.

-some quit due to slow progress never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress-

Next week I’m taking next step towards achieving a professional goal I’ve been working on since I completed treatment in January. Much of my attention is focused on preparing for this trip, but as I do I can’t help but think about how far I have come in the last 9 months. It often seemed to be going so slow that I felt I was getting nowhere, but now I can see that was not the case. I’m still mulling over how to put all of my feelings on the matter in to words. So much is going on right now though that I think I’m going to need some more time.

I can’t say too much about my trip other than to say I’ll be venturing back in to familiar territory that post-treatment feels outside of my current comfort zone. For someone who used to travel all the time, after having been in the protective bubble of treatment and recovery, it now feels like a ‘new’ experience that is unfamiliar and weird. As I continue to move forward, it is coming back to me and I’m excited to get under way.

no worries, I got this

❤ P

On Resilience

resilience (1)

Pretty much common sense really, yet I know I am not alone in needing the reminder that in order to not only survive but thrive one needs to regularly rest and recharge. I have a tendency to push myself too far. While I have made serious improvement since a car accident in 2011 forced me to slow down or else I fell down, on occasion I can still overdo it. I got fairly close to that line yesterday as pointed out to me by my friend, Lindsey, when I posted a picture of her rock star daughter Avalon with caption saying “Foster visited Foster”. Those are the kind of goofs I make when brain power is starting to bottom out, so I shouldn’t have been surprised this morning when I rolled over and realized it was 1:30 PM. Thankfully the four-legged crew was kind enough to let me sleep. Fergus even took some convincing to wake up himself. It isn’t like I slept a ridiculously long time though. I’ve been dealing with some insomnia issues lately which combined with the long day yesterday resulted in some difficulty waking up.

On the Bright Side |  it was that insomnia that led to me finding the most inexplicable Facebook live video of a woman in Alabama hosting a “pearl party” and salty as hell at her videos jump in viewership from 100 to 1000s; many of whom, like me, were left clueless as to what exactly it was they were watching.

I felt some guilt for sleeping so late, but after checking out my sleep history on Fitbit I realized I needed that sleep pretty badly. It’s been a pretty quiet day here full of knitting, dog walking, and some work related tasks. A nice lead in to the weekend.


Today’s Highlight | Our neighborhood rock star, Avalon, came home from the hospital this evening! I am seriously impressed by the progress she has made since her surgery on Monday. I know her cats, Andy and Jacks, are happy to have her home and the neighborhood kids have probably already started ringing the doorbell. She still has quite the road ahead of her, but I’m looking forward to some crafting time with her while she recuperates.

It’s no big secret that I enjoy knitting, buy what kinds of crafting do you enjoy when you are couch bound recovering?

no worries, I got this

❤ P


All Good in the Neighborhood

Long and busy day has worn me out so this probably will be short and sweet.


My gyn-oncologist has the raddest shoes

Everything checked out fine at my doctor appointment this morning. I am super grateful for my wonderful gyn-oncologist. She explained that with my CA-125 results a doubling of the value in a 3 month span would be a cause for concern, but the small increases I noted were normal. She reassured me that it was her job to CARE for me, not PROTECT me, so I should never worry that she has not shared everything she knows with me.

Reiterating that if she didn’t know something she would tell me and that when it came to difficult conversations she would deliver the news as empathetically as she could, but that she would tell me everything. I cannot emphasize enough what that meant to me.

She also pointed out, without making me feel like a complete goober, that I had an ultrasound when my gallbladder came out in July that was noted as being UNREMARKABLE. Something that would totally have eased my mind if I had taken a moment to think it through.  I left the office with a script for antibiotics to treat my UTI, lots of compliments on my knitting, and some new shoe goals. All in all a successful start to the day.


I stopped by Salontology this afternoon to see my Hottie Scottie to catch up with him and get my hairs shaped up a bit. He has made ‘the great hair reboot of 2017’ so much more bearable. A clip here and another there and he’s made each phase of growth look like it was a choice and not just something I had to deal with after treatment.


My last stop of the day was to see a pint-sized pal at Duke Children’s Hospital who had surgery to address a curvature in her spine on Monday. People have called me a warrior, but I have nothing on her! She walked around her unit yesterday and two flights of stairs today. She’s had issues with pain management, but she’s handling it like a champ. I’m super proud of how well that little rock star is doing. While I was there tonight she finally started to get her appetite back, enjoyed opening some presents, and was visited by Foster the Therapy Dog. When I left she was settled among her pillows and stuffed animals watching The Lion King 😉

What a day. I think I’ll be napping it up tomorrow!

no worries, I got this.

❤ P


How Will Numbers Be In The Future?

I joined a Facebook group for ovarian cancer survivors so I could read about the experiences of others to help put mine into some context. One of the first things I saw was a post sharing a guide to CA-125 values prepared by the Foundation for Women’s Cancers . Another timely find as after I received my results from my 9 month post-chemo follow up appointment I noted that since I completed my treatment my CA-125 value has been creeping up. It is still well below the 34.9 cap on the “normal” range and my doctor seems pleased with how they are doing, but it still bothers me.

She stood in the storm

I can’t say that I found great comfort in what I read since it says that a increase in number over time is often an indicator of a recurrence. At the same time, there is still a great deal to learn about this test result and the guide does note that a gyn-oncologist is most skilled at interpreting the results for individual patients.

This result is just one more tool in the tool box so I shouldn’t give it more power than it deserves. I’ve noted a trend, but all that calls for is continued attention to future results and not a call to arms now. I guess I’m still recovering from being told that they don’t normally become concerned about an elevated CA-125 value in a “woman my age” until it hits 200 (when mine was 165). However, if I’m reading this guide properly it seems that it is not really considered an accurate screening test until it is determined that it is accurate for the individual with the value (clear as mud, yes?)…

Gratefully, it isn’t my job to obsess over these numbers and I have great faith in the abilities of the person who does have that job. Speaking of which, I see her tomorrow to determine what’s going on in my urinary tract so I can ask her then if I’m just being my hyper vigilant self or if there is any cause for concern.

Has your CA-125 value been a good indicator for you with regards to your diagnosis, treatment, and follow up or not? Let me know in the comments below.

No worries, I got this

❤ P

Fear is the Mind Killer

While I wait to hear back about survivorship support AND wait to see doctor about my current health issues, I’ve been exercising my Google Fu skills to find some help online. One such resource I found was a PDF booklet titled creatively enough, “Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment” put together by the National Cancer Institute.

I’m finding it to contain some useful information. They suggest you share the booklet with friends and family to help them understand what you are going through, which I have now done. You can either read it straight through or read a specific section as needed. I skimmed the whole booklet to get a sense of the contents and now I’m taking on sections that resonate with me the most at any given time.

On the heels of yesterday’s semi-controlled vent regarding fears of my cancer coming back, I thought the section on coping skills for that very thing might be a good place to begin.

coping withfears of

  • Be Informed – this is currently causing me more agita than it is helping, so moving on…
  • Express Feelings – the blog is helping me to better get out the thoughts rolling around in my head
  • Seek the Positive – I’m considering adding a section to my posts to highlight the good I see happening around me
  • Don’t Blame Yourself – my initial thought was that this doesn’t really apply to me and then a tiny voice said, “yes, it does” so we’ll just consider this a work in progress
  • Be Active – Fergus and Fitbit are helping me with this one. I increased my step goal another 1K per day this week to 7K
  • Relax – Knitting.
  • Control What You Can – as a recovering control freak, this one is a bit difficult for me, but I’m working on it 🙂

How have you dealt with your fears? Let me know in the comments. We’re all in this together after all.

Don’t worry, I got this.

❤ P

Life With Cancer | It’s Probably Nothing, But…

There’s an ever so slight chance it’s something.

After my 10% chance it’s something became 100% it’s ovarian cancer, I haven’t had much trust in the simple reassurances you often hear when facing an unknown. One of the questions that comes along with surviving cancer is, “will my cancer come back?” Most of the time, that question hides way in the deep of my subconsciousness and only surfaces right before one of my quarterly follow-up visits.

Until this weekend, that is.

Based on my symptoms I most likely have a simple UTI or, at worst, a kidney stone. However, because I’m an ovarian cancer survivor there’s the third option of a recurrence in the form of bladder cancer. I haven’t really had a UTI since my mom figured out when I was 5 or so that Mr Bubble and I didn’t really get along too well. There was a suspected instance during my chemo treatments, but because I was neutropenic and popped a fever, it was addressed almost immediately in the ER with some heavy duty broad spectrum IV antibiotics.


That isn’t the case this time. This time there is no fever and no quick turnaround in the ER, instead there is blood and roughly 3 days of calls to figure out what needs to be done. As long as I can continue to weather the crazy urgency to pee countless times throughout the day and night, I have an appointment to be seen by my gyn-oncologist Thursday afternoon. If I break before then, I’m to call back so they can get me seen by one of the Fellows. I don’t see me breaking anytime soon as I’m still agitated that Fellow blew me off on Saturday night and I won’t feel at peace until I hear from Dr. Gehrig.

Pretty much everyone has assured me that it’s probably nothing and for the most part I agree with them, but I still can’t help but worry that maybe, just maybe, it IS something. Only 9 months post-chemo and I’m being introduced to the thoughts I will have every time something is not quite right in my body… “is this it? has my cancer come back?”